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'Abusive' vicar who continued to practice after ban keeps Holy Orders despite addition to infamous 'Lambeth List'

'Abusive' vicar who continued to practice after ban keeps Holy Orders despite addition to infamous 'Lambeth List'
Jonathan Fletcher was banned from his role in the church following accusations that he 'spiritually abused' vulnerable men
Jonathan Fletcher was the former vicar of Emmanuel Church, in Wimbledon, south-west London
Most Rev Justin Welby has been the Archbishop of Canterbury since 2013

Gabriella Swerling
The Telegraph
April 19, 2020

An 'abusive' vicar who was banned from preaching - yet continued to hold religious ceremonies - has had his name added to the infamous 'Lambeth List'.

Jonathan Fletcher, 77, a leading evangelical minister was banned from his role in the church following accusations that he "spiritually abused" vulnerable men.

He was unmasked by The Telegraph last year and since then his victims have come forward on condition of anonymity to speak out about how the former vicar of Emmanuel Church, Wimbledon, south-west London, left them feeling "like a neglected and abused dog".

They claim they were subjected to repeated sexually inappropriate comments and questions about masturbation, naked massages, beatings on their bare backsides, ice baths, bullying, intimidation and psychological manipulation over a number of years.

A complaint had been lodged against Mr Fletcher under the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) in 2017.

Only now has it finally been processed.

It can now be revealed that the former vicar has had his name added to the 'Lambeth List', also known as 'the Archbishops' List'.

The list records information on activities of alleged wrongdoing for "all clerks in Holy Orders" and is kept in Lambeth Palace, home to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby. It has never been published.

Church authorities have concluded, however, that Rev'd Fletcher has the right to keep his Holy Orders and still be referred to as 'Rev'd Fletcher' despite his inclusion on the list, but he is not allowed to minister within the Church of England.

This is despite him admitting to administering massages and beatings as part of "lighthearted forefeits" in a bid to maintain "healthy and holy living".

Responding to the long-awaited results of the CDM, one of Rev'd Fletcher's alleged victims said that the punishment is "a small step in the right direction that Jonathan Fletcher has at long last admitted to offences that have attracted a 10-year penalty".

However, he criticised this as "a deal done behind closed doors, without due reference to victims and survivors, allowing Fletcher to retain (and continue to misuse) a prestigious title for a job he neither has nor is fit for".

"A cultural change is needed where wrongdoing in public ministry is brought into broad daylight and dealt with in such a way that all might see justice has been served and those who have suffered are given hope, help and healing," he added.

The former vicar has previously told The Telegraph that he is "deeply, deeply sorry for the people I've harmed" but has denied allegations that he humiliated people and made derogatory comments about their appearances.

Rev'd Fletcher has also said that massages and beatings were consensual and that he never gave ice baths, but did "very, very, very rarely" give "a cold bath".

"Anything that happened was totally consensual and non-sexual," he added. "The punishments were a) consensual, and b) mutual."

In 2017, the Bishop of Southwark stripped the Rev'd Fletcher of his Permission to Officiate (PTO). Yet he continued to hold religious ceremonies.

Not only did he preside at communion administering the elements to two people at their bedside, he also led a committal during a cremation.

The CDM process was introduced in 2003 and is supposed to deal "efficiently and fairly with formal complaints of serious misconduct against members of the clergy", however the system is currently under review after coming under criticism for "operating largely in the dark".

The Telegraph understands that Rev'd Fletcher's CDM was concluded in March. As part of this, he agreed with the Bishop of Southwark to a "10-year prohibition as a penalty by consent" and his name has been added to the 'Archbishops' List'.

However this means that Rev'd Fletcher still has his Holy Orders and is a Rev'd, but he is not allowed to minister within the Church of England.

Responding to the conclusion of his CDM, Rev'd Fletcher told The Telegraph: "I have apologised unreservedly to anybody I have hurt and I don't know what else to say... I have done exactly what the Diocese have asked me to do."

A spokeswoman for the Diocese of Southwark confirmed that following a complaint made under the CDM the Rev'd Jonathan Fletcher accepted a penalty by consent of prohibition from ministry for 10 years.

She added: "This means that his name is added to the Archbishop's List which includes details of those who are not allowed to minister within the Church of England. After the period of prohibition, there is no automatic return to ministry.'

VOL FOOTNOTE: Defrocking was abolished in 2004

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